I’ve been working a bit on the setting for my game with the kids, which is also my backup game for the Bumblers, possibly a play-by-forum game in the future if I get my act together, and finally an example setting for the system (tentatively titled The Majyc System). So it needs a name, and possibly a hook. I’m a little leery of the “elevator-pitch” approach to game settings; too often they end up sounding like something out of They Fight Crime: “He’s an all-American white trash shaman haunted by an iconic dead American confidante She’s a beautiful antique-collecting femme fatale from a secret island of warrior women. They fight crime!” On the other hand, there’s certainly something to be said for being able to succinctly state what the game is about, and give the players an expectation of the tone and kind of adventures they’ll be playing. And bog-standard dungeon bash doesn’t sound all that thrilling, even if you’re confident that playing it will be a blast.
For now, I’m calling it the Land of Nonesuch, and working on the premise that (unknown to the current crop of characters) they’re inhabiting a land described in a book of odd and somewhat macabre fairy tales called The Land of Nonesuch, by the mysterious George Jester. Both the book and the author appear both in our world, and in the land the book describes. My overall plan, if something so vague and inchoate can actually be called such, is that this setting will let me scratch several itches that I’ve had for quite a while now: running a game in a setting inspired by The Book of Weird, and by the Oz books; getting some use from various cast-off pieces of prior settings (such as the settings of the games with the Three Paladinos, and the one-shot To Rescue the Sun) and swiped from other people’s settings (like Thool, or Dwimmermount); to do some bottom-up setting design, where I haven’t worked out a whole map of the setting and a thousand years of history before I begin; and finally, putting that all together, to do some gaming where I haven’t systemetized everything and there’s not a way that magic or religion works, and I’m not pinging the players with info-dumps. Naturally, I have ideas on things I want to see in the setting, and spring on the characters, but I want to be much more encouraging of letting the players make up crazy stuff too, and just rolling with it. I want to recapture, at least for some of the time, some of the much more free-wheeling GMing I did in my youth, where a lot of stuff was decided on the basis of either “Yeah, that sounds good!” or “roll a die, high is good.”